Cars are expensive to run and maintain. You can often save money on repairs by sourcing used car parts, so long as you know what you’re doing and go through a reputable dealer.
When replacing a component you need to make sure it’s the right fit for your car. This doesn’t mean just the part’s physical fit – which is the least of your problems. Components can differ markedly, even between very similar makes and models. Best case scenario, you’ll order a part like a bumper and find that it just won’t bolt onto your car. In other instances, you might buy and install a generic part, only to find out later that it’s not suited to your vehicle – perhaps because the specification isn’t high enough. This can damage your car, reduce its working lifespan and even cause accidents. Buy new or used car parts that are designed for your model, unless you know for sure that another product is suitable.
You can buy parts new from the manufacturer, from third party companies, or from breakers, scrap yards or online. In the first case it’s easy enough to establish compatibility, since the part was designed for your car in the first place. Similarly if you’re buying used car parts from a breaker, you can specify the component for your make and model of car – meaning you’ll get an exact match. Parts from third party companies may or may not be designed for your car. Don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it, either, unless they are a well-known name. If you’re in any doubt seek advice or go for the safe option.
image courtesy: aara.com
Each of these sources comes at a different price. Parts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are most expensive, since they are official, branded parts. You can also buy parts from third-party companies. These may or may not be approved by the manufacturer and, all things being equal, will be cheaper. Beware of parts that seem too cheap – there’s a chance they could be counterfeit or very poor quality. Lastly, used car parts from a breaker or scrap yard are typically significantly cheaper than new parts from the manufacturer – and you know you’re getting the right component for the job.
4. Labour vs DIY
If you know what you’re doing then you can buy new, aftermarket or used car parts and do the work yourself. For simple jobs this can be both cheaper and quicker, since you won’t have to take your car into the garage and pay for labour (and the other costs associated with car repairs). For more complicated or safety-critical work, it’s best to have a professional do it for you.
5. Warranties and returns
Finally, check what the returns policy is on any components you buy, new or used. If you buy online (for example from eBay), make sure your seller has good reviews and allows returns if necessary. Also bear in mind that if your car is still in warranty, you may void it by buying generic or used car parts and doing the work yourself. The official garage will have approved suppliers and it’s best to stick with these, even though the cost is higher.